“Thanksgiving” A Daily Devotional

turkey“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”—Psalm 136:1

Our family gathers around the Thanksgiving table every year. The venue changes, but now the menu does not. Once I cooked a wild turkey our sexton had hunted. Another year I abandoned my bread stuffing for a chipotle corn bread recipe I saw in a foodie magazine. These innovations were met with the kind of murmuring that a pastor hears when she changes the words of the Doxology, and for much the same reason.

Like a familiar liturgy, the reliable sameness of the items on the Thanksgiving table signal some order amidst the turbulence that takes place from year to year.

Our parents are long gone, and our children are grown-ups with jobs. Some are married or about to be. Like most families we’ve had our share. We have weathered illnesses and injuries and periods of joblessness. We have seen our children off to college and move to other coasts. We have welcomed home a prodigal now and then.

So when we gather together before the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie there is something of the sacred about the feast before us. The simple fact of being together makes the time holy.

And like the sky above us, and the earth beneath our feet, the steadfast love of God frames our several journeys through time, for which we give thanks.

Prayer: Everlasting God, we thank you that your love and mercy endure to all generations.

(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotional for November 27, 2014. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here. Photo of turkey by R.L. Floyd who cooked it as well)

“Childlike not Childish!”

astonish-us“Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the realm of God as a little child will never enter it.”—Luke 18:17

Have you ever noticed that the adjectives “childish” and “childlike,” which have pretty much the same definition, carry very different connotations? Continue reading

Reflections on Living in a World with a Trump Presidency without Leonard Cohen

cohenSince the numbing election I’ve been imbibing in the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen. I didn’t start out on this road as some sort of masochistic exercise. I just wanted to reacquaint myself with the work of this troubled genius who juggled so many contradictions within himself and his art.

Cohen was God-haunted while denying any traditional understanding of God. He followed Buddhism “religiously” while he still never stopped being deeply informed by his Jewish identity. Much of his poetry and song verse bristles with Biblical imagery and apocalyptic vision. Continue reading

Let us not treat this wound too lightly. Reconciliation requires repentance.

reconciliationI haven’t said much about the 2016 election on this blog. I have chosen to write about what I believe, to share the good news about God’s vast love for all of us, which we know in Jesus Christ.

The election is now over and, as always, there are winners and losers. That is how elections work. But this one is different because of the rancor and hate that is left in its wake. Continue reading

“Displaced Persons” A Sermon on Jeremiah 29: 1-14

jeremiah“Home Sweet Home.” “Home is where the heart is.” “There’s no place like home.” But what if you must leave your home? What if you find yourself far from home?  I want to explore the theme of “home and exile.”

 We will look at an important letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon. It is a letter of hope and comfort to people who have lost their homes, whose lives have been turned upside down. They are dislocated, displaced persons. I think the letter has things to say to us in our time. Continue reading

“From Generation to Generation”

14947950_10153991262146787_2996963739551176385_n“One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” —Psalm 145:4

I treasure my faith in God, but faith hasn’t always been easy for me and I don’t take it for granted. It never stops being something of a mystery to me.

But one thing I do know about faith is that you don’t come to it alone. And by faith I don’t mean just belief in a set of doctrines, but deep trust that God is real and good and loving. Continue reading

“The Time of Trial” A Daily Devotional on Luke 22:39-40

and-still-he-loved-them“Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’” —Luke 22:39-40

Since I was a child I have prayed the line from the Lord’s Prayer “lead us not into temptation.” Too often my “temptations” have been of the trivial sort, such as whether to eat that second cupcake. My mother liked to quote New Yorker writer Alexander Woollcott, “All the things I really like to do are either illegal, immoral, or fattening.”

But the newer translation of this line is “save us from the time of trial,” which echoes Jesus’s words here to the disciples. Continue reading